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Salaspils : Estonian Brief


The battle of Cesis was a huge victory for the Estonians, but that was over a week ago and the Iron Division (Freikorps) and Baltic Landeswehr (local German militia) under von der Goltz have retreated precipitously and are now lined up outside Riga. The Estonians are itching to finish the Germans off and capture Riga.

The position is very strong, with almost all of it behind large water features – except for along the Daugava River (Duna, Dvina) near Salaspils, which is where this scenario occurs.
 

Estonian briefing

You command the Estonian 3rd Regiment. You have marched from Cesis guarding the southern flank of the army and only on 1 July did your first elements run into the enemy between Zekul and Salaspils.

The entire Estonian southern army has been ordered to attack in the early morning, ensuring that other sectors will draw enemy reserves away. An allied Latvian battalion across the Maza Jugla have been ordered to attack at the Zekul ferry.

In order not to interfere with the Latvians, you have been ordered to attack and take the riverside road and rail line into Riga. This will mean clearing Salaspils and Kirchholm of the enemy. If all goes well, you are to pursue the enemy into Riga.

You have no reserves behind you and your Latvian neighbours across the Maza Jugla River cannot support you. You have only the most indirect telephone contact with HQ. Basically you are on your own.
 

The terrain

Your map is basically accurate, but a bit vague and does not show many small details. You may, however, question local peasants about any particular items of interest. They may also guide your troops up to the enemy front lines, to prevent them getting lost.

The area is extremely flat, with the highest hills (orange circles) only 20 metres above river level. The two highest points are the church steeple at Kirchholm and the Selekas hill but even these rarely see over the forest trees.

The Dvina and Maza Jugla rivers are not fordable and neither side has had time to accumulate any boats. The local streams are slow and are not greatly cut into the ground: they are only difficult to cross when boggy. They have a little bit of scrub along them sometimes.

The area is scattered with small farms, mostly only a few buildings sometimes surrounded by fences, hedges or trees, but these make crossing the open areas rather easier than if they were entirely bare. They also provide night-time quarters for your men, so there is no need to place them in the main villages (although they will greatly prefer that!).

Houses are standard log cabin types except for major stone buildings at Kirchholm and Zekul (churches) and Amalienhof and Salaspils (manors). The railway station at Salaspils is pretty perfunctory, just a small low station building and platform. Many of the smaller “villages” are really just a loose collection of farm buildings.

The rye crops also provide some cover if infantry take care to move through them slowly, but the hay has been gathered so the grass itself is short. There are no hedges or fences, and rare ditches along the roads or near boggy areas. The farmers usually do not farm boggy areas (except sometimes to make hay) so most open space is good going.

The forests are not particularly dense with little undergrowth but most are quite boggy – your map shows the worst bits, but there is no guarantee it is 100% accurate. Infantry and cavalry can move through the dry forests without a huge deal of difficulty, although keeping oriented is difficult in such flat land. There are lots of small unmarked paths used for gathering firewood and berries which are passable to artillery with difficulty.

The weather has been warm and dry for a while. Sunrise is at  2:30 and sunset is 20:20 (St Petersburg time).
 

The enemy

Although they have been reinforced since your decisive victory at Cesis, the local villagers report that the Germans’ morale is poor. They are lining the Maza Jugla river to Zekul, and then their line heads south to the Dvina River.

You know that you are facing the Iron Division, who have been here for several days now, and it can reasonably be assumed that there is at least one regiment in your sector (perhaps 1,000 men).  Locals inform you that they have “dozens” of cavalry and 8 to 20 guns (opinions differ!). They probably have more machine-guns than you. They have total air superiority.
 

Your men

3rd Regiment
1st Battalion:
1st Company – 3 bases
2nd Company – 3 bases
3rd Company – 3 bases
4th Company – 3 bases
1st MG Platoon – 1 base
2nd Battalion:
5th Company – 2 bases
6th Company – 2 bases
7th Company – 2 bases
8th Company – 2 bases
2nd MG Platoon – 1 base
3rd Battalion:
9th Company – 2 bases
10th Company – 2 bases
11th Company – 2 bases
12th Company – 2 bases
3rd MG Platoon – 1 base
MG Company – 2 bases
Foot Scouts Detachment – 2 bases
Horse Scouts Detachment – 1 base
3rd Battery, 3rd Arty Rgt – 1 x 6" Schneider howitzer base
4th Battery, 3rd Arty Rgt – 1 x British 18 pounder base

You are desperately short on all communications equipment. You have a couple of telephone receivers and two kilometres of wire. Your artillery carry enough rounds for 40 minutes shooting, and a further 40 minutes worth in a resupply convoy (with limited mobility). The scouts are your best men – though the mounted scouts are not much good as horsemen they are fine once dismounted.

Your men are well and eager to take on the enemy.

(In this scenario a base represents approximately 30 fighting men, 4 MGs or 2 guns.)
 

Deployment

The main enemy body is along the Kirchholm to Zekul line, although he may have pickets out in front.

You should attack early in the morning (but not before dawn, given how early that is!) marching up with the bulk of your units from Ukskula, where they have spent the night.
 
 
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